A Bunch of Really Smart Guys

I’m working on web site for a local developer group here in Orlando.  We met last Saturday to talk about plans for how the site is going to be rebuilt by grease-boarding some brainstorms, as well as a peer review of some of the stuff that some of the developers have been doing.

I’ve been very impressed by these guys since they stepped up for this community effort and although we’ve had some spirited discussions about technology, we always land on our zeros and ones.

Orlando Code Camp Home Page

Orlando Code Camp Home Page

Today, A Win

Over the last few weeks I’ve been putting time into reading about patterns that aid in moving new ideas into organizations, i.e. what to do first, what to do next, how to keep the wheels on the idea.  One of the first patterns talks about weaving your new idea into your own work, then sharing it with others for validation and/or buy-in.  There’s more to it than this, but here’s where I’ll start my story.

I’d taken a very different approach to building in a feature for an application at my shop.  The business had a lot of input on how they need to perform tasks, I captured what I thought was everything in one, one hour meeting last month.  I used my (borrowed from a conference last year) idea for how to compose the information they had shared and today I shared their information in a new format they probably have never seen.  Four levels of employees all reading from the same pages, and everyone got that I populated those few pages with pictures, ideas, and information that told the story of how one part of the business works.

We went from the dry stuff to something a bit more interactive and fun – I let the end users show me how the feature’s workflow would be most beneficial for their day-to-day operation.  They seemed to get excited to have some authorship on the idea, and all with a low-tech prototype that allowed from quick changes on the fly as the conversation progressed.  We finished with only go over 15 minutes beyond our allotted time.

A good day, today, a win.

Building a product backlog

Today I met with another user group member to discuss building a product backlog for a small community project we are starting to tackle. We do have a hard date to meet, but the scope isn’t very large and we have a very willing and able group to handle the work.

The best part about today was wearing the product owners’ hat a little bit and trying to talk and phrase things like them. Let me tell you this it was not easy to take off my developer hat this morning to try and finish this task. By the end of the day we had stopped talking about clicking buttons and UI and service components.

We got the gist of the stories into a Given-When-Then flow so we can move them into SpecFlow to give us a chance to use SpecFlow and our test tool of choice. There are 6 of us in the group and plenty more who are interested in getting involved in Agile. So it would be nice to drive small projects from time to time to reinforce some of principles, practice, and patterns.

The group is going to meet-up next weekend to continue the work and discussion. I also upgraded my AgileZen to help us capture the stories and help with the sprint planning. The team is very distributed but it may help with our weekly “sit-ups” online. Looks like fun and feels like fun so far, hopefully it wil be.